Match notes: Rams to host rival Wyoming

Oct. 3, 2012

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Friday, Oct. 5, 2012 | 7:45 p.m. MT | Moby Arena (8,745) | Fort Collins, Colo.

How to follow along
• Live Stats: Online statistics will be provided through Gametracker. A link for live stats can be accessed through the volleyball schedule page on
• Video: CSU offers a live video stream for all home matches. For more information, or to subscribe for this service, visit:
• Twitter: As always, CSU’s athletic department will tweet live updates and results from the CSU Rams Gameday Twitter account: @CSURamsGameday.

Scouting Wyoming
Wyoming comes into Friday’s rivalry match boasting a 13-5 record and a 1-2 record in Mountain West play. The Cowgirls come into the match playing as well as they have played all season, winning their last two matches, including posting a season-high 19 team blocks in a sweep over Colorado State-Pueblo on Monday.

Wyoming will look to disrupt Colorado State’s attack with its tough defense at the net. On the year, Wyoming ranks as the conference’s best defense. Nationally, the Cowgirls rank No. 12 in blocks per set, putting them atop the Mountain West, as well as also having the best opponent hitting percentage (.121) in the conference.

Leading the defense for the Cowgirls are a couple of talented middle blockers. Sophomore Erin Kirby leads the team with 1.43 blocks per set (19th nationally), while Reese Plante, a Fort Collins native, also averages over one block per set (1.18), and ranks 79th nationally. The two middle blockers combined for 16 blocks in their previous match.

Wyoming also returns senior outside hitter Jodi Purdy, a two-time All-Mountain West selection and preseason Co-Player of the Year. After a stellar junior season, Purdy is again leading the way for the Cowgirls’ offense. For the fourth year in a row, Purdy leads the team in kills per set (3.23) and points per set (4.02). This year, Purdy is also leading the team with 0.37 service aces per set, second in the Mountain West.

Helping anchor the the back of the defense for the Cowgirls is junior libero Becky Stewart. Stewart comes into Friday’s match averaging 4.75 digs per set, second in the conference. Junior setter Rachel Keyes paces Wyoming with 5.66 assists per set. The Cowgirls utilize a second setter in their rotation, as well, with sophomore Whitney Smith averaging 4.19 assists per set herself. As a team, Wyoming ranks second in the league with 1.40 service aces per set, again providing a tough matchup for the Rams.

Wyoming is coached by Carrie Yerty, who is in her fifth year with the program. Yerty has posted a 74-64 record as head coach of the Cowgirls.

Series vs. the Cowgirls
Colorado State leads the all-time series over rival Wyoming, 53-19. At home, the Rams are 27-8 against the Cowgirls, and have enjoyed even more success with Tom Hilbert as head coach. Since Hilbert took over the program in 1997, Colorado State is 29-2 overall against Wyoming, and have never lost at home.

CSU’s loss last October in Laramie was the just Hilbert’s second ever to Wyoming. The Rams were previously riding a 26-match winning streak.

Last year the Rams and the Cowgirls met three times, with the Rams coming away with victories twice. In a five-set heartbreaker in Laramie, CSU was up 2-0 before dropping the final three sets. Deedra Foss posted a career-high 66 assists, as well as 13 digs. Outside hitter Dana Cranston paved the way for the Rams’ offense, tallying 16 kills, as well as 25 digs. CSU rebounded with a three-set sweep over Wyoming on Senior Night, before meeting its rival again two weeks later, in the semifinals of the Mountain West Volleyball Championship, in Albuquerque, N.M.

In all three matches last year, libero Izzy Gaulia tallied at least 21 digs, averaging 6.36 digs per set. In seven career matches against Wyoming, senior middle blocker Megan Plourde has averaged 7.71 kills, 5.00 blocks and 10.43 points per match.

CSU welcomes back Ram Legends
More than 30 former CSU volleyball players, including CSU’s first All-American, Sherri Danielson, will be in attendance Friday night as part of this year’s Ram Legends Alumni Weekend. The former athletes will be honored on the court between sets 2 and 3, and will participate in activities with the current team throughout the weekend, including the football game on Saturday.

The match has been pushed back from a normal start time, to 7:45 p.m., in order to accomodate the University's Homecoming & Family Weekend festivities. Fans are encouraged to attend the community parade and CSU pep rally/bonfire before making the 'March to Moby' for the match.

Top of the Mountain
In 13 seasons with the Mountain West, CSU has led the charge, winning nine regular-season conference championships, in addition to five MW tournament titles in 10 seasons. No other current MW team has taken home a regular-season conference title. Utah won or shared three crowns during its 12 seasons with the conference, while BYU won or shared a pair of championships. CSU has finished first in the regular-season standings each of the last three years.

Additionally, CSU has won more than 85 percent of its all-time MW matches (168-29, .853 winning percentage), far greater than any current or former opponent. Friday will also be CSU’s 100th home MW contest. In the 99 previous, CSU is 92-7 (.929).

39 straight against conference opponents
Overall, CSU is riding a 10-match home winning streak against conference teams, which dates back to CSU’s loss to Utah on Nov. 24, 2010. The Rams’ most recent home loss to a current member of the Mountain West was all the way back on Nov. 4, 2005, when UNLV defeated CSU. The streak spans 39 matches.

Cranston earns Player of the Week nod
After averaging 4.17 kills and 1.00 aces per set in a pair of conference wins over the weekend, senior Dana Cranston was named this week’s Mountain West Volleyball Player of the Week.

“The honor is really humbling,” Cranston said. “I’m glad that our team gets recognized for what we accomplished this weekend. I don’t think this honor belongs to only me, though. We had some really great performances from a lot of different people this weekend, and that’s how we got the results we did.”

In home sweeps over Nevada and San Diego State, Cranston led her teammates in kills both matches, tallying 14 and 11, respectively. In Saturday’s win over the Aztecs, Cranston also recorded a career-high six service aces, the most by a Rams player in four seasons. While Cranston had 25 kills in the two matches, equally impressive was that she did so while hitting a combined .523, posting just two attack errors on 44 total attempts (25-2-44). Her .565 hitting percentage against the Wolf Pack on Thursday was a season high. In addition to her six aces on Saturday, she also recorded her fourth double-double of the season with 10 digs.

About Colorado State volleyball
The CSU Rams volleyball program began in 1976, and since, has been synonymous with winning and success, averaging nearly 21 wins a season and posting an all-time record of 763-379 (.668 winning percentage). The Rams have won 17 conference titles (12 regular-season, five conference tournament), which is more than any other sport at CSU. The program’s success is seen on a national level, and can be broken down into three categories:

NCAA tournaments: CSU has been to 23 NCAA tournaments, including 17 straight dating back to 1995. Just 12 Division I teams have earned more tournament berths, and the Rams’ stretch of 17 consecutive appearances is the eighth-longest active streak in the country.
Rankings: The Rams have appeared in the final AVCA top-25 poll in 15 of their 30 seasons (the AVCA started its ranking system in 1982), including each of the past four years. Overall, CSU has been ranked in 237 of the 438 all-time weekly polls, 14th-most in the NCAA. The Rams’ highest-ever ranking was No. 3, in October 2000, and their highest final ranking was No. 6, in 1987. CSU has been ranked in the top 10 a total of 58 times—18th-most in the NCAA—and is one of 21 teams to ever be ranked in the top three.
All-Americans: With two All-America selections in 2011, the Rams have now had 10 players earn a total of 12 AVCA All-America awards in their history. Just 16 teams across the nation have more All-Americans than CSU.